Family Portrait Clothing Guide

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This blog is for my clients who ask for ideas on what to wear for family portraits.  I know everyone is busy and things are usually crazy  – especially when there are little ones.  So I hope this guide is helpful to you.  I know that you want to make sure the portraits are classic and bring smiles to you and your family members many years down the road.  So here are some helpful hints:

Coordinated Color Look

This look pulls in many textures and prints that mix and match by using a combination of colors.  For example, let’s say you like the colors black, white, and gray.  One person could wear a black, white, and grey plaid shirt or plaid skirt, another person can wear black pants and a white shirt, another could wear a gray dress, while another could wear a black top with gray pants.  The idea is to create a portrait where everyone is coordinated together.  

Above is an example portrait with maroon, gray, and white as the main colors.

Some great color combinations are:

  • Blue, yellow, and gray
  • Yellow, green, and white
  • Orange, tan, and brown
  • Navy, tan, and cream

Uniform look

This look pulls in the same colors and usually incorporates jeans/khaki pants and a similar color shirt.  Here is an example:

A group of people sitting on a bench posing for the camera

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Some general guidelines are below:

  1. You’ll want to give yourself time to coordinate your outfits.  The more time, the less stress.  Lay all the clothes out together and see how they coordinate together.  Mixing and matching can be fun by laying them out on a bed or table.  You’ll also want to consider a more classic look for timeless portraits.
  2. Start with Mom’s outfit and coordinate around that.  Or you can start with the youngest member of the family and coordinate around that.
  3. Consider Casual or Classic.  Either way has a timeless feel so go with what you and your family is most comfortable with.
  4. Consider accessories and these can be very fun.  For example, I also love including pets in family photos and it would be a great idea to add a color and/or leash to match the family.  Some other ideas are plaid pants for an adult member and the same plaid in a child’s hat or scarf.  If using a pop of color against a black and white main theme, use that pop of color in a belt, purse, scarf, and/or hat.
  5. Consider your home color scheme as well.  This comes into play very nicely when you hang large family portraits in your home.  What colors will blend into your décor?
  6. Consider the season as each season represents a color scheme:
    • Spring – use pastel colors
    • Summer – more toward the whites, bold colors like red or pink, royal blue,  yellow
    • Fall – the typical fall colors work well such as oranges, browns, dark purples, and oranges
    • Christmas photos – white, red, green, grays, blue, creams, black
  7. Avoid large distracting prints as the focal point will be on the print rather than your family’s smiling faces.  You’ll also want to limit patterns.
  8. Consider the location of the photography session:
    • Studio – can go very formal with black and white or you’ll want to match to the planned backdrop
    • Outside – can go with tan and white or add a pop of color coordinating here and there; this varies depending on the setting so when in doubt I can help with ideas
  9. Make sure the outfits are comfortable.  You’ll want everyone to relax and enjoy the session.  If you little ones are adamant about wearing the boots that really do not match your color scheme, go with it.  You’ll appreciate their personality in the protraits for many years to come.

A special note to the parents:  Your job is to keep smiling and looking at the camera.  It is my job to get everyone to smile.  Kids get tired and need breaks so we’ll watch for those signs and make sure they get their “refresh” time.  And sometimes the best portraits are the ones where the family is NOT all looking at the camera at the same time.  🙂

And be sure to get some goofy photos!

A group of people sitting on a bench

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